Another Southern Writer Finds Love in the Ruins: A Review of Kevin Powers’ Latest

The opening paragraph of Kevin Power’s new novel, A Shout in the Ruins, is perhaps the finest beginning to a book I’ve read since Flannery O’Conner blew open the universe in the first paragraph of The Violent Bear It Away. Like that gem, Powers’ opener is all mood and tantalizing hooks that spark a thousand […]

What You Need to Know to Care for Your Clergyperson (Even if That’s You)

Some of the advice that Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee have for clergy is very straightforward. “If you’re really tired and wondering whether you should work more or go to bed, don’t wonder—just go to bed!” (157) Excellent tip. Back from my nap now, I’ll go on to say that other advice in Faithful […]

Joy Comes In the Morning: A Review of Christian Wiman’s Poetry Collection

“Joy: that durable, inexhaustible, essential, inadequate word. That something in the soul that makes one able to claim again the word ‘soul.’” (xxxvii) Last year two books from Christian Wiman made their way to my reading stand. If nothing else had happened in the literary world in 2018, those two works would have been enough. […]

A Book You Shouldn’t Read: The Unfortunate Autobiography of Carson McCullers

  The title promises more than it delivers.  Illumination and Night Glare, the unfinished autobiography of Carson McCullers, purports to be a chronicle of the artistic process, giving us insight into the inspirations (illumination) and trials (night glare) of McCullers’ life.  There is some of that in this slight book, but it retains its interest […]

Why a Story of Fugitive Slaves May Not Just Be History

In light of the current Great Divide, there is no innocent reading of history. We mine every thesis about the Constitutional Convention or the Civil War for evidence of another agenda. History becomes covert commentary on Trump and the Resistance. So when Andrew Delbanco’s wonderful new book on fugitive slaves in antebellum America landed in […]

What If We Can’t ‘Get Past’ Sex? A Review of Entangled

The following review was originally published on The Englewood Review of Books and is republished with permission. The author is Heartlands editor, Alex Joyner. What if questions of human sexuality are not something that the United Methodist Church (UMC), like other mainline Protestant denominations, have to settle and get past, but rather are the foundation on which the […]

House Burns. Farm Threatened. Christian Fiction Revived? A Review of This Heavy Silence

The cover of Christy, Catherine Marshall’s 1967 work of Christian fiction, has stared at me from a thousand church library shelves over the years. The original paperback version shows a young woman in early 20th-century dress seemingly dancing through a mountain meadow like Julie Andrews in the Alps. Catherine Marshall created Christy as a tribute […]